Each time we closed school for holidays, mixed feelings gripped us on our way home. The feeling of finally resting from the rigor of classwork, early days, early nights, and a break from the teachers brought about a sense of relief and happiness on the one hand. The other feeling of parting with friends and missing out on sports, dance, drama, and so on, brought sadness and anxiety. Possibilities of transfers and others moving on also added to the upset. Such were confusing moments.
Furthermore, what vexed the mind emanated from the report cards we held in our hands, an objective rendering of how well or not we had performed during the term. High marks and good comments always gave me the confidence and eagerness to get home. Between myself and my parents we knew what qualified as good results despite what the paper showed.
My friend who stayed closer to school was not as gifted, but quite an honest chap. Naively as we thought, he would get home first while we walked on leaving us worried for him and wondering how bad his situation could be with his parents. Hours later we would meet at the playground and he would be there holding a ball cheerfully calling us over to play. I always wondered how their family did that.
Another friend was average, very cunning, and yet always found it difficult to get home. He would make all kinds of excuses, forged his grades, and comments or hid the card altogether fearful of punishment from his very strict parents.
The reality of death is upon us, much clearer than ever with the pandemic, natural disasters, and manmade crises. Our attitude towards life and death resonate with the childhood experience of the three friends walking home. It’s a story of friends separating from one another on the one hand and children reuniting with their families on the other. The occasion of death can be very confusing due to uncertainty or fear of the unknown (dare I add fear of the known). Our projections of hopes and beliefs, both false and true, add on to the mix. We love and enjoy the company of our friends. We care for them a lot, we like them and desire to be with them and to see them once again. Separation is, thus, difficult to handle for some self-ish reasons.
Our idea of God and the afterlife also plays an important role. If what I have experienced (or never experienced but known through others) personally is the God who punishes, a father who despite his knowledge of his child’s limitations demands perfection, we are constantly scared of death and wish to postpone meeting him face to face as long as we can. We go out of our way to live a lie, solicit, and even blackmail our good friends to conceal our dark secrets, attempting to deceive Him of whom we are and what we have achieved.
The less talented but honest among us who go before us leave us with heavy hearts as we carry on in this life. However, their simplicity and warm relationship with God should console us and inspire us to hope for unity with a God who is tender and loving, just and caring enough to reward each according to their ability and responsiveness to the demands of the good life.
This leaves us to acknowledge that, faith is a subjective experience of the Divine, a response that is personal. The various projections of life here and after only serve to confirm our fears of death and lack of faith in a God who desires unconditionally to unite with His children as he created and called them. Let us, therefore, hold fast to what is true within us, about us, around us and above us. Live well, love well, hope well, and have faith. The one who sent you as you are, welcomes you back as you are. Home is best.
 Persecutions, and many other forms of suffering and injustices are rampant, but can never take away the good in us
 We worry about our well-being without them, how we miss them and all the good they used to provide us while they lived.
 Intercessory prayers and fasting, bribing/co-opting men and women of God and those entrusted with conveying messages to the public.